Founding Director, Biotechnology Program

46 Years of Dedicated Service: Leader, Educator, Innovator, Mentor

Dr. C

Dr. Jack Gregory Chirikjian, the founding director of Georgetown’s Masters in Biotechnology Program, passed away peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Washington, DC. on September 30th. 2018. shortly before his 78th birthday.

Born in Cairo, Egypt to Armenian parents in 1940, he emigrated to The United Slates in 1959 where he achieved the quintessential American Dream and was a proud patriot to his adoptive country. Dr. C, as so many lovingly called him, was a Professor of Biochemistry at Georgetown University for 46 years where he touched the lives of countless students and won numerous awards. His capstone achievement was the establishment of the Masters in Biotechnology Program. He was also a successful entrepreneur and founded no less than seven biotechnology companies spanning education and research. Jack was a dedicated researcher and owned numerous patents throughout his career. 

Below is a brief timeline of notable moments in Jack’s life, as we celebrate and honor his legacy and achievements:

1940-1959 Egypt


Born Mergedij Gregory Chirikjian in Cairo, Egypt of Armenian descent on December 10. Shortly Before Failed Invasions by Nazi Germany During WWII

Attended Private Catholic Schools

Son of Armenian Genocide Survivor

Dr. C.’s Father Owned Tailor Shop Renowned for Quality in Cairo

Jack graduation

1959 – 1972

Name changed to Jack G. Chirikjian (after Jack Kennedy) at immigration border. Educational journey in the US begins

Immigrates to US in December 1959

Attends Trenton State College on Scholarship

Dr. C. Earns His PhD in Biochemistry from Rutgers in 1969; Starts PostDoc at Princeton

Jack lecturing


Accepts Position as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center in 1972 (Basic Science Bldg was new!)

Obtained tenured professor after 5 years

JGC in office


Serial entrepreneur journey begins:

Establishes The Bethesda Research Laboratory (BRL), Inc.; Predecessor to Life Technologies, Inc. in 1975

Founds Oncor (Oncology Corporation) in 1983; Develops Early BRAC1/BRAC2 Diagnostics

For a total of 7 companies: Bethesda Research Laboratory (BRL), Inc., ONCOR, Capitol Biotek Consulting, EdvoTek, TreviGen, DNA Depot, Amelia Technologies

JGC started biotech teacher training


Leader in Biotechnology Education

Dr. Chirikjian was awarded National Science Foundation grant for teacher training in the area of biotechnology


Jack and the REALLY big pencil


Founded MS in Biochemistry, one of the first master’s in the field.

Inaugural class consisted of seven students.

Jack with students


Master’s program celebrated 10 years.

Master’s program name changed to MS in Biotechnology.

20-year anniversary group photo


Biotechnology Program Celebrated 20 years of “Making Science Our Business.”

Dr. C


Dr. Chirikjian continued his full-time workload after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016, and continued his dedication to students. He graduated over 800 masters’ students before he lost the battle on September 30.